Blue Origin is taking a novel approach to selling the first available private spaceflight seat on its New Shepard rocket, with an auction that will award the spot to the highest bidder. The company used a sealed bidding process for the first part of the contest, but it is now revealing the amount of the top bid and from now until June 10, all online bidding will happen in the open.
The current top bid for the coveted spot is at $1.4 million, after a bidding process that saw 5,200 applicants put in an offer, spanning bidders from 136 countries. Blue Origin will now be taking open bids on its website, and the current high bid (which is already up to $2 million as of this writing) will be displayed prominently for all to see.
On June 12, there will be one final, live online auction, among remaining participants who have registered and are willing to compete at whatever the high price is at the time. The winner then gets a seat on that first flight, which is currently set for July 20, and which will include other, yet-to-be-named passengers selected by Blue Origin.
The Jeff Bezos-founded space company has been working toward this moment for a long time, but this winning bid isn't a direct payday for the private spaceflight venture: Instead, it's donating the amount of the winning offer to its Club for the Future nonprofit, which is aimed at encouraging kids to pursue a STEM education.
This will be Blue Origin's first-ever human spaceflight, and the fact that they're opening up at least one seat to a member of the public means they're extremely confident in the reliability of the suborbital, reusable New Shepard launch system.